Philip Richard Morris

(Devonport 4 December 1836 - 22 April 1902, 92 Clifton Hill, Maida Vale, London)

Genre and marine painter, was born in Devonport, Devon, the son of John Simmons Morris, an iron-founder, and his wife, Anne Saunders. His father took him to London in 1850, to train for the family business, but, fascinated by plates he saw in periodicals, Morris became more and more interested in art. With the encouragement of Holman Hunt, who intervened on his behalf with his father, he began to study art, first drawing in the evenings at the British Museum, and then, in 1855, in the Royal Academy Schools. He did well there, winning silver medals for drawing, painting, and portraiture. In 1858, he was awarded the gold medal and a travelling studentship for "The Good Samaritan"; he used this to visit Italy and France, where he stayed until 1864. It was also in 1858, that he submitted two paintings to the Royal Academy exhibition, and, with only a few breaks, he exhibited there until 1901; he also exhibited regularly at the Society of British Artists and, between 1877 and 1888, at the Grosvenor Gallery.

Of Morris's early paintings the best known are his seashore subjects, for example, "Voices from the Sea", (1860), based on verses by Tennyson.
"Drift Wreck from the Armada" (1867)
The Sailor's Wedding (1876)
He painted several allegorical scenes of country life, such as
The Mowers (1875)
The Reaper and the Flowers (exh. Grosvenor Gallery 1877)
Death and the Woodman (1879)
Garland Day, Dorsetshire Coast (1893).
Under the influence of Hunt, Morris painted a number of religious subjects, most notably
"Golgotha," or, "Where they Crucified Him", (1862; Sunderland Museum)
The Summit of Calvary (1871), engraved by Paul Jonnard. London)

But the most popular of his works was "Sons of the Brave" (1880), which showed the orphaned boys of soldiers of the Chelsea Hospital, emerging into the street as a musical band, a painting noted by a contemporary critic as full of character and ability. His later career was dominated by portraiture, and his sitters included Daniel Adamson, the chairman of the Manchester ship canal (1884), Colonel Edis (1889), and Sir Robert Rawlinson KCB (1892).

Morris was elected an associate of the Royal Academy in 1877, but gradually his powers as an artist were seen even by sympathetic contemporaries to be on the wane, and he began to suffer from ill health. In 1900, he resigned his associateship. He died at his home, 92 Clifton Hill, Maida Vale, London, and was buried at Kensal Green cemetery. He was married to a widow, Mrs Sargeantson, the daughter of J. Evans of Llangollen, and had two sons and three daughters. Paintings by Morris are in the collections of Blackburn Art Gallery, Leeds City Art Gallery, the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, Manchester City Galleries, and Sunderland Museum.

Philip Richard Morris, Art Journal, J. Dafforne, (1872); A word on behalf of Philip Richard Morris, A.R.A., Magazine of Art, (1902); Royal Academy exhibitors, Graves; Aberdeen Art Gallery; Members and associates of the Royal Academy of Arts, (1891)

Mouseover To Enlarge

Philip MORRIS, the son of an engineer and iron founder. This artist was born at Devonport in 1833 and apprenticed to an engineer. His artistic tastes, which he early developed, he pursued for five years in the intervals of his manual work, his employer, it is said, steadily refusing even at the intercession of Mr. Holman Hunt (from whom he obtained his first encouragement) to cancel his indentures. Under Mr. Hunt's advice he studied the Elgin marbles in the British Museum, and his employer at length relenting, he was enabled to devote himself wholly to art. He entered the school of the Royal Academy and in two years won three medals. In 1858, he carried off the gold medal, and a little later the travelling scholarship which enabled him to pursue his studies in France and Italy. On his return he started exhibiting at the Royal Academy, and was seldom absent from its walls down to the very year of his death. He devoted himself very largely to sacred art, and amongst his notable works in that department were, "Jesu Salvator"
"Where they Crucified Him"
"The Shadow of the Cross"
"The Shepherd of Jerusalem"
"Purity" and"The Honeymoon"' were the two last pictures which he sent in to the Academy Exhibition. He died in 1902 at Clifton Hill, Maida Vale, in the sixty-eighth year of his age, having been an Associate of the Royal Academy for nearly a quarter of a century.

Bryan's Dictionary of Painters and Engravers, 1876 - Reprinted, 1894, 1899.

PHILIP RICHARD MORRIS, (1836-1902), was the youngest of the five children of John Simmons Morris, an iron founder, by his wife Anne Saunders. He was taken to London at the age of fourteen, with a view to being trained for his father's profession. But his mind was set upon an artist's career, and, largely owing to Holman Hunt's advice, Ms father overcame a rooted objection to his pursuit of art. Philip was soon allowed to work at the British Museum, where he applied himself particularly to drawing from the Elgin marbles. Having entered the Royal Academy Schools, Morris made striking progress, gaining three silver medals for drawing, painting, and portrait. In 1858, he won the gold medal and a travelUng studentship which enabled him to visit Italy. He exhibited at the Royal Academy for the first time in the same year, and, save for five years, was represented there annually till 1901. He exhibited at the British Institution from 1857 to 1865. The beginning of his professional career was briUiantly successful and raised hopes in his brother artists and in the public that were destined to be disappointed by the achievement of his maturity. After Morris's election as A.R. A. in 1877, his powers began to wane, and in 1900, he retired voluntarily from the associateship. He died in London on 22 April 1902, and was buried at Kensal Green. He was married to a widow, Mrs, Sargeantson, daughter of J. Evans of Llangollen, and had two sons and three daughters.

For his earhest work Phil Morris chose his subjects from the drama of the sea and the sailor's life. It was his instinct for dramatic effectiveness and sentiment that made his art popular, both on the walls of exhibitions and in the form of engraved plates, and atoned to a certain extent for his shortcomings as a colourist. His landscape backgrounds were almost invariably the feeblest part of his pictures. Among his early sea pictures were:
"Voices from the Sea" (R.A. 1860)
"Drift- wreck from the Armada" (1867)
"Cradled in his Calling" (B.I. 1864).
Then came a period during which he was almost exclusively attracted by religious subjects, such a:s
"The Shadow of the Cross" (acquired by the Baroness Burdett-Coutts and never exhibited); 'Where they Crucified Him" (B.I. 1864)
"Jesus Salvator" (1865)
"The Summit of Calvary" (1871)
"The Shepherd of Jerusalem."
None of his pictures, however, attained to more popularity than "Sons of the Brave" (1880), depicting the orphan boys of soldiers. Royal Military Asylum, Chelsea. Among other well-known works by him are:
"The Knightly Mirror"
"Good-bye, God Bless You" (1873)
"The Mowers" (1875)"
"The Sailor's Wedding" (1876)
"The First Communion"
"The Reaper and the Flowers"

[Magazine of Art, 1902; Victoria Magazine, 1880; Graves's Royal Academy Exhibitors; British Institution Exhibitors; Dictionary of National Biography, Second Supplement, Vol. II, P. G. K., 1912.]

A woodcut of "Cradled in His Calling' by Philip Richard Morris, A.R.A. (1833-1902), appeared in the Art Journal for June 1872, N.S., vol. ii. p. 162; of the other picture, entitled "Where they Crucified Him," a steel engraving (by J. C. Armytage) appeared in the same journal for October 1868, N.S., vol. vii. p. 200.]

I have no hesitation in saying that, compared with the ancient and stereotyped conceptions of the "Taking down from the Cross," there is a living feeling in that picture which is of great price. It may perhaps be weak, nay, even superficial, or untenable -- that will depend on the other conditions of character out of which it springs -- but, so far as it reaches, it is pure and good; and we may gain more by looking thoughtfully at such a picture than at any even of the least formal types of the work of older schools. It would be unfair to compare it with first-rate, or even approximately first-rate designs; but even accepting such unjust terms, put it beside Rembrandt's ghastly white sheet, laid over the two poles at the Cross-foot, and see which has most good in it for you of any communicable kind.

The Works of John Ruskin, Volume 19, John Ruskin, (publ) G. Allen, 1905

View artist's work: Philip Richard Morris (1836-1902) [new window view]